Texas Medical Teams Work Through Winter Storm to Save 24-Week-Old Baby


A baby born prematurely at a Central Texas hospital overcame nearly impossible odds, thanks to medical teams’ dedication to her survival.

According to KVUE-TV, the baby’s mother, 21-year-old Kimberly Arias, began experiencing contractions on the morning of Feb. 17.

Though Texas was in the middle of a winter storm, Arias drove through ice and snow to the Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Marble Falls.

After she arrived, Arias’ daughter Zaylynn was born at 24 weeks, weighing only 1 pound, 5 ounces. But the hospital where Arias gave birth was only a Level 1 facility, rendering it unequipped to care for such a premature baby.

A baby like Zaylynn normally would be transferred to a facility that could provide specialized neonatal care. The winter storm in Texas, however, made the idea of moving the baby — born 16 weeks prematurely — almost unthinkable.

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According to family medicine physician Dr. Curtis Copeland, babies such as Zaylynn have a 50 to 60 percent chance of survival in ideal circumstances. But the severe weather conditions posed another challenge to protecting the baby’s life.

“No one was able to come because of the weather,” Copeland told KVUE. “Because of the ice, because of the snow. So helicopters couldn’t fly; ambulances were having difficulty.”

Copeland continued to work alongside delivery nurse Meredith Schubert and an “all hands on deck” medical team to stabilize Zaylynn. Meanwhile, another team tried to locate a medical transport group that could brave the severe weather and transfer the premature baby to a neonatal intensive care unit at another hospital.

“We had five or six people out at the nurses’ station calling hospital networks all over the state of Texas,” Schubert said, according to ABC News. “Nobody could answer our cry for help.”

The team’s call for assistance finally reached Dr. John Loyd, a division neonatologist chief at Dell Children’s Medical Center, located about 50 miles away, in Austin.

When Loyd heard about Zaylynn, he had been in the middle of arranging transport for another baby.

“I knew there was a mother out there, I knew there was a health-care team out there that was not equipped to take care of such a fragile baby that was having to try and do that,” Loyd told KVUE. “As a parent, as a provider, I couldn’t on my watch not do something.”

Texas Medical Teams Work Through Winter Storm to Save 24-Week-Old Baby

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Loyd filled an SUV with medical equipment and traveled with two NICU nurses to help Zaylynn. As the three drove two hours through the snow, Loyd communicated with Copeland to ensure the baby received the proper care before he arrived.

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The two teams worked through the night to keep Zaylynn alive. It was not until the next day that a helicopter arrived to transfer the premature baby to the Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Even though the weather had cleared, transferring Zaylynn still was  risky.

After doctors placed her inside a specialized Isolette that allowed her to travel while attached to a ventilator, Zaylynn’s heart rate dropped, according to ABC News. Despite the brief scare, the helicopter safely delivered the baby to the more well-equipped medical center.

The Baylor Scott & White hospital took to Facebook on Feb. 26 to commemorate the achievement.

“Texans came together last week to help one of our tiniest. During the winter storm, baby Zaylynn was born prematurely at just over 21 ounces,” the hospital wrote. “Knowing EMS units wouldn’t be able to make it to our Marble Falls facility, our team members sprung into action to consult with Baylor Scott & White Medical Center (in Temple) and work with Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas team members.”

“They traveled … with life-saving equipment to create a makeshift NICU until baby Zaylynn was safely transferred to a Level IV NICU,” the hospital added.

Texans came together last week to help one of our tiniest. During the winter storm, baby Zaylynn was born prematurely at…

Posted by Baylor Scott & White Health on Friday, February 26, 2021

After being discharged, the baby’s mother is staying with Zaylynn at the Ronald McDonald House at the Dell Children’s Center, Loyd said, according to ABC News. Zaylynn is expected to remain under supervision there for several months, but to her mother’s relief, her condition has improved.

“They made me feel like my baby was really safe and in really good hands,” Arias said. “I didn’t get much sleep, but the few hours I got, like, I could be calm because I knew someone was there with my baby. She was taken good care of during that whole process, and still is.”

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